Young people experiencing psychosis for the first time will be offered care through a single-purpose team at Axis Health System as part of a concerted effort to reach those with schizophrenia and other serious mental health illnesses.
Providing care during the initial stages of mental illness is intended to help stabilize patients, reduce their symptoms and allow them to maintain their relationships and independence, according to a news release.
“Left untreated, a psychotic disorder can be very stressful,” said Shelley Millsap, outpatient program clinical manager for Axis.
The stress of untreated psychotic conditions can affect not just the patient, but can burden friends and family members as well, making it impossible for some of them to continue caring for the person who is mentally ill, she said.
The new wraparound services at Axis will be provided by a psychiatrist, registered nurse and four other staff members who will follow a model of health care used in other parts of the state that can help patients pursue education and employment.
The new team will treat patients across Southwest Colorado experiencing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, a condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions, mania and depression, Millsap said.
The new treatment approach is intended for those who have experienced psychosis in the last 24 months. Psychosis can include hearing or seeing things that others do not, having thoughts or beliefs that appear as strange, withdrawing from family and friends, feeling fearful or suspicious of others, and disorganized speech and erratic behavior. Psychosis affects three in 100 people and usually occurs for the first time between the ages of 15 and 30, according to the news release.
The new approach, as part of the First Episode of Psychosis program, will provide young patients with: individual and group therapy, case management, vocational and educational support, medication management, peer specialist support and other services, according to the news release.
Therapy offerings include a group that patients’ families can attend to receive support and eduction, Millsap said. The group therapy is a “core fundamental pillar” of the new program.
Axis patients have traditionally had access to the same services that will be offered by the dedicated team, Millsap said. But through the new program, the services will be handled by one team.
The team will care for a maximum of 35 patients, she said.
Community members who want to schedule an appointment may call 259-2162.